Protesters rally for state campaign finance reform

On Sept. 17, a group met outside the Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Anchorage with Senator Bill Wielechowski to protest a recent decision by the 9th District Federal Court that would strike down several provisions of Alaska's campaign finance law.

The decision of the court strikes down three limits set by the law: a $500 per year, per person limit on contributions to a single candidate; a $500 per year per contribution to a political group; and a $3,000 per year limit on money donated to candidates from all out-of-state donors combined. A judge from the court called for a reconsideration of the decision and the state was asked to submit arguments on this reconsideration. Sen. Wielechowski had written a letter, signed by several other senators, to Governor Dunleavy asking him to please press for a reconsideration. Gov. Dunleavy would not.

The campaign finance law was passed in 1996 and reaffirmed by a citizens' initiative in 2006, the year Sen. Wielechowski was elected to the legislature, Wielechowski pointed out.

The year 2006 was also when FBI agents began investigating the Alaska legislature for taking bribes from the oil industry.  By 2008, six Republican legislators had been indicted on corruption charges. The group became known as the "Corrupt Bastards Club".  

The citizens who gathered in September were protesting the court's decision and are calling for the state legislature and for Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution to once again allow states to regulate money in political campaigns. Alaska Move to Amend organized the event. The group states their mission is to educate Alaskans on the issue of unlimited money in politics and why it is bad for our democracy, and to call for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Meanwhile, if the court's decision stands, it leaves open the opportunity for unlimited amounts of money to come from outside the state by wealthy donors, including multi-national corporations, putting Alaskan politics at great risk of corruption, according to Sen. Wielechowski.  

Beverly Churchill is a member of Alaska Move to Amend, whose mission includes educating Alaskans on constitutional issues regarding personhood and money as a form of free speech. This article is part of a series on campaign finance reform.

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